PHOENIX — In one swing, Canyon Del Oro’s Lindsey Weldon knocked in the Dorados’ game-winning run, stitched up the repeat status as 4A state champions and inked her own historical niche in one of the state’s most successful softball programs.
Minutes after her teammates finished swamping her at first base, she remained breathless.
“You don’t hear anything. You just swing the bat hard,” Weldon said, gasping between sentences. “You do what you gotta do.”
The junior’s two-out, two-strike center field single scored Courtney Solleveld and sent the No. 7 Sahuaro Cougars (26-9) packing from Rose Mofford Sports Complex last Friday afternoon.
For CDO pitcher Kenzie Fowler, the feeling resembled one of déjà vu, after then-senior Kate Wilczynski’s 2007 homer against Scottsdale Chaparral marked her team’s previous walk-off title win.
“These games always come down to one hit, one run. Lyndsay was so clutch in that last inning, you couldn’t ask for anything better,” Fowler said.
While the .423 Weldon delivered at the right moment, CDO’s freshmen came out shooting, once again.
Taylor Watkins — who hit an in-the-park homer during the tournament’s opening round — singled and scored during the bottom of the first for the initial lead.
Fowler (24-1) struck out two more before a few hitches surfaced in the fourth inning. Sahuaro catcher Jessica Hostetler’s two-RBI single into right field followed a leadoff single and walk, for a momentary 2-1 lead.
A mound conference ensued.
Then, the strikeout artist regained control of the game and never let it slip again — striking out six of the Cougars’ last nine.
CDO slugger Kate “Smasher” Asher evened the score in the bottom of the fourth, tagging a 2-2 solo shot just over dead center.
Sahuaro’s fielder pressed hard against the temporary rail trying to snare Asher’s 14th shot on the year.
From there on, the Dorados (33-4) marked time, until Weldon validated the Dorados’ northward trip worthwhile with her aluminum signoff.
Catcher Rose Magaddino fought back tears after her pink shoelaces graced the business end of Fowler’s cannon one last time before she plays for Drake University next fall.
“I was pacing in the dugout. I couldn’t even sit still for two seconds,” she said of that final at-bat.
“I don’t even remember running out on the field. It’s so great to end it this way — it was amazing.”
Though it was the second year in a row the Dorados won in such a manner, coach Amy Swiderski expressed no shock with the outcome.
“A lot of teams might get tired, they might say ‘Well, we’re done,” but this team doesn’t,” Swiderski said.
“They’re going to fight until they’re the ones with that trophy and that picture.”
A healthy contingent of CDO fans — whose clanging cowbells and green- painted bodies muted their local counterparts — drove up for the game, played 130 miles from their home turf.
Quaint notions of Tucson-area title games drew no enthusiasm as the 4A trophy poised to head south in Dorado hands, though.
“In a way (playing locally) would be nice. I think we’d have even more fans, but at the same time it shows that we’ve got great school spirit,” Swiderski said.
“It doesn’t matter where we win, it still feels really good.”
With the long ride ahead of them, Sahuaro coach Steve Sanchez praised the efforts of his team and “stud” pitcher Kira White.
The 17-3 sophomore entered the game carrying a .19 ERA.
“We battled a good team and they battled back,” Sanchez said. “That’s why they’re CDO. They’re a great program, they get it done.”